On Tuesday, The FBI arrested forty-five people and sixteen juveniles were rescued following a two-week crackdown on prostitution in the New York-New Jersey area leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl.
According to the FBI, some of the people arrested claimed that they had visited the site because of the football game, which drew about 400,000 visitors. Many of the minors rescued ranged between the ages of 13 to 17, some of which were high school students and children reported missing by their families. Vitcims were rescued and arrests were made in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Ahead of the Broncos and Seahawks game, the FBI, backed by state and local law enforcement agencies had about 3,000 agents and civilians in the field to spot possible victims of human trafficking.
Some of the trafficked women reported seeing double their usual traffic, about 50 johns a day during Super Bowl, said Lori Cohen, director of Sanctuary for Families, which assists victims of human trafficking. «Many of the men were setting up football parties where they are drinking, watching football and ordering in prostitutes,» Cohen said, adding that one woman she spoke with told her «it was really dangerous. If she was … at a party where the team was losing, the men would get really drunk and really violent.»
Even though the Super Bowl has passed, the risk for victims of human trafficking has not.
Globally, human trafficking – which includes not only people forced into prostitution but domestic workers and others who are transported from their homes and forced to work – is a $32 billion industry with some 2.5 million victims, according to data from the United Nations.
The latest arrests are in addition to last week’s bust of a multimillion-dollar New York criminal operation that sold wealthy clients «party packs» of drugs and prostitutes. Some 18 people were arrested in that crackdown, New York state officials said.
One woman who was trafficked into prostitution as a teen and now works as an anti-trafficking activist, said the best way to reduce prostitution would be to arrest the men who search for it.
«I don’t blame this on the Super Bowl or Nascar events, or the Final Four in basketball,» said the woman, Theresa Flores. «I blame it on the lack of education that is happening because we are not going after the demand, that is, the men.»
Her organization, traffickfree.org, monitored classified listings and found numerous «Super Bowl specials» in northern New Jersey offering services at $50 for 30 minutes and $100 for an hour.